the early 90s, when the Wrays arrived in Oswestry, our son Simon was
taken along to the track. The general perception was of a struggling
running club which had a number of middle distance coaches, some
sprints but no field events. When the children went to competitions
they just had a go at field events for fun!
a year the picture began to emerge of coaches who were all pretty
discouraged and anxious to hand over to "new blood", and
declining numbers of club members. Arnie and another parent, Andy
Knott, agreed to take a coaching course to support the coaches.
Unfortunately, as soon as we qualified, almost all the other coaches
resigned leaving Andy and Arnie, (Assistant Club Coaches!), in total
control. The only other coach who remained involved was Mike Hancock
who was based in Cheshire and turned up once a week with a minibus
full of kids!
was something of a shock to the system, but as there were only about
20 children it wasn't as bad as it might seem although the age range
was very wide. Most of the older athletes left at about this time
too, (no decent coaching!!), so we realistically were starting up
with a new young group, most of whom were under 13. They all trained
at the same time, twice a week on the track in Summer and once in
Winter when Mike would take a road running group and Andy and Arnie
looked after the others in the Marches Sports Hall.
took on Sprints coaching in the Summer, generally with older kids,
and Arnie looked after the younger groups. We soon extended the
Winter training to two nights for older children, introducing Circuit
training on Tuesdays, and in a few years had to split the Thursday
sessions into two age groups as the club expanded. Other coaches came
and went during this time, and some stayed, Kathy Wray, Ellen
Harrison and Sarah Greaves. Andy qualified as a Level 2 Sprints coach
and Arnie virtually took a new qualification every year although
primarily focusing his efforts in High Jump.
1993 children's P.B.s were recorded for the first time and 5-star
awards were presented at the awards evening, and some years later
Club records were first established based on the P.B.records since 1993.
breakthrough came when two boys from the club got selected to
compete in the English Schools track and field finals, (not
surprisingly, a sprinter and a high jumper!), although children from
Oswestry had been representing Shropshire in cross-country for some years.
the mid 90s the club had begun its unbroken run of Sports hall
victories and was starting to pick up trophies in cross-country
leagues. Andy decided that, with the addition of new coaches to the
"staff", he could retire to take a more specialized sprints
group who still travel to Wrexham and Telford to train. Sarah also
qualified as a level 2 throws coach.
the late 90s the club has gone from strength to strength with the
addition of three more coaches, Kathy Smith, John Roberts and Paula
Pugh, and the opportunity for a wider range of athletics training.
Our most recent addition, John, brings with him experience as a
Senior middle-distance coach in Southend and fills a gap left when
Mike Hancock stopped traveling to Oswestry a few years earlier.
have also recently benefited from parents who have taken on team
managing roles and a host of other admin. responsibilities which were
previously carried by a small group.
- Arnie's Beginnings
snippets from the 1990s (as dimly recalled by Arnie and Kathy Wray).
Winners for the 8th successive year Much Wenlock 6/2/2000
since been extended to 11 times 26/5/2003)
our first breakthrough in the mid 90s, the club has had
representatives at the English Schools T&F. finals most years,
including three medalists
in 1999. A number of club members have also gained representative honors
for Wales, Scotland and N.
Ireland and one was selected for the GB Junior International team
this decade the club also raised the funds to purchase a new High
Jump bed and cover and a synthetic Long Jump runway, and Oswestry
Town Council who took over the stadium in the late 90s have funded
the resurfacing of the red-gra track.
the year 2000 the Junior club was arguably the most successful in
Shropshire, with just over 100 junior members, having won more
Shropshire cross-country trophies than any other club in the previous
Winter, retained the Sports Hall trophy and won the S.Y.A. track and
field league, despite a year of unfavorable
training facilities and a much smaller area of population to draw
from than larger clubs like Telford or Shrewsbury
If you would like to add to our club history we
would like to hear from you. Perhaps you were a Olympian some years
ago, perhaps you have photos of the track in it's un-cared for era or
even when used by the Park Hall Army camp,or any other information
you would like to pass on. We could add your contributions to our
website. - Keith